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Biden says Israel will secure new Gaza pier; Pentagon: It may take 2 months to build

US President Joe Biden said Friday that Israel will provide security for the temporary port he announced will be built off the coast of Gaza City, as his administration pushes to boost the amount of aid getting into the enclave amid the Israel-Hamas war.

  • In his State of the Union speech Thursday night, Biden said the US military mission to build the temporary port will not require any American boots on the ground.

Senior administration officials briefing reporters on the project before his speech, however, said that US military personnel would be operating in vessels along the shore, though they won’t be docking.

  • Israeli officials have yet to confirm Israel will be in charge of securing the port, though they did welcome Biden’s announcement of the maritime corridor for aid.

The Pentagon on Friday predicted the temporary port project will take “likely up to 60 days” in planning and execution, adding that the US eventually aims to provide 2 million meals to Gazans daily.

The process may involve 1,000 US forces, but those troops will not be deploying troops ashore — even temporarily to anchor the dock to the beach, said Pentagon spokesperson Air Force Major General Patrick Ryder.

The spokesperson said there was no cost estimate yet. He said the US was also talking to NGOs, aid groups and the United Nations on how aid will be delivered.

A widening humanitarian crisis across Gaza and tight Israeli control of aid trucks have left virtually the entire population desperately short of food, according to the United Nations.

  • Officials have been warning for months that Israel’s siege and offensive were pushing the Hamas-run Palestinian territory into famine. Israel says it has made much more aid available than the UN has proved capable of delivering.

Biden has become increasingly public about his frustration with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu government’s unwillingness to open more land crossings for aid to make its way into Gaza. In his address on Thursday, he called on the Israelis to do more to alleviate the suffering even as they try to eliminate Hamas.

  • In addition to the planned pier, the US began airdropping aid into Gaza last week as part of the administration’s humanitarian efforts.

Biden was asked Friday about his revelation after the State of the Union — caught on a hot mic — that he told Netanyahu that they need to have a “Come to Jesus” chat. “You guys eavesdropping on things,” he told reporters.

  • Asked if the remarks showed his level of frustration with Netanyahu regarding the lack of humanitarian aid in Gaza and whether he needs to do more, Biden answered, “Yes, he does.”

Later, he addressed the prospects of reaching a ceasefire-for-hostages agreement by the start of Ramadan on Sunday, saying it’s “looking tough” for a temporary truce deal by the start of Ramadan on Sunday.

Biden, speaking to reporters after visiting a family at their home near Philadelphia, also said he was concerned about violence in Jerusalem without a truce.

  • Hamas’s military wing earlier Friday urged supporters to mobilize toward the Al-Aqsa Mosque at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, a flashpoint for violence during Ramadan in past years, including in 2021 when Hamas rocket fire at the Israeli capital triggered the previous war in Gaza.
  • It also said there would be no compromise on the terror group’s demand that Israel withdraw from Gaza to secure the release of hostages seized by Hamas.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed Friday that it was up to Hamas to accept the ceasefire proposal, after the Palestinian terrorist group left talks in Cairo aimed at reaching an agreement to pause fighting before Ramadan.

Israel launched its war on Hamas after the October 7 onslaught in which thousands of terrorists crossed the border, killing some 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and taking another 253 hostages.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

Source: TOI